Vocal Technique and Vocal Robustness

This week I was having a conversation someone about vocal robustness, i.e. being able to sing for long periods, and for sustained touring schedules.

I’ve written numerous articles on the primary causes why people lose their voice on a regular basis, through overuse, misuse, and abuse. I’ve got a full listing of related articles at the footer of this article.

A lot of people see vocal robustness as something wholly separate to vocal technique. Robustness is somehow “just one of those things“, and technique is something separate, primarily determining range, tone, ability to riff, etc. However, they are not at all separate. Vocal robustness is inherently a by-product of good technique, and here’s why… Continue reading “Vocal Technique and Vocal Robustness”

The Fallacy of Vocal “Tips and Tricks”

People looking for help with their voice regularly ask me “tips and tricks” so they can try to DIY fix a specific issue or to improve their voice. Let me give you some examples the kinds of emails looking for written advice to help their voice:

A: “I can reach high notes easily, but I sing high notes in more of a choral head voice and I’m not able to belt them in the same way I can using my chest voice. Are able to give me any tips as to how I might achieve this?”

B: “My range up high sounds good but I struggle to hit lower notes in my range, they tend to get quite wispy and weak. Do you have any tricks I can use to solve this?

C: “My voice sounds OK down low but when I try to sing higher it often sounds very strained and frequently cracks. Can you tell me some quick fixes on how to solve this?”

These are all generalised variations on genuine requests I’ve received over the years. While I totally understand the desire ask for suggestions to fix one’s voice, that such tips and tricks exist is an unhelpful fallacy. Here’s why: Continue reading “The Fallacy of Vocal “Tips and Tricks””

Shouting Masquerading As Singing: Reasons why so many singers are just yelling

Old man yells at cloud
Honestly, this article is not simply a case of “old man yells at cloud“…

It’s not simply a case of me staring into the middle distance and yearning for the “good ol’ days” – there is undoubtedly an epidemic of shouting masquerading as singing.

I was at an event recently where every single singer was just yelling their guts out. I’ve singers step away from the microphone to show how loudly they can bellow their lyrics. I’ve seen performers get gigs on not much more than them being louder than their peers.

But before we judge such singers too harshly…

… are there reasons behind why this is happening? I’m not advocating for justification or exoneration of those who do this, but seek to provide at least one plausible explanation for this trend. Continue reading “Shouting Masquerading As Singing: Reasons why so many singers are just yelling”

Learning to Riff: Why most people find it hard & why it can be easier than you think

I was having a conversation with a client recently about riffing: what it is, why it’s useful, and why it seems difficult to many.

For the ease of discussion let’s say that anything that extends the melody beyond the original for dramatic/musical effect is a ‘riff’, and that riffing is therefore the act of extending the melody in such a way.

I’d say that most singers want to get better at riffs/riffing, but that they find it hard to do. I’d also say that a lot of singers who think they are good at riffing are not as good as they think they are, and typically repeat the same old basic tricks over and over. But why is it hard to do? And could it be made easier?

The simple answer is yes, but there’s some important logic and understanding behind that answer. Let’s break it down. Continue reading “Learning to Riff: Why most people find it hard & why it can be easier than you think”

Tongue Tension – a.k.a. Sounding like Kermit

For most people, singing (at first) tends to involve unnecessary tension. Sometimes this is extremely obvious, e.g. veins and tendons popping on their neck. Sometimes it’s moderately obvious, e.g. the vocal tone sounds strained. And sometimes it’s downright invisible.

Unnecessary tension

This typically occurs when *something* isn’t working quite right. This then means that other muscles that shouldn’t be involved in a particular function try to get involved and “assist” unnecessarily.

One of the most prevalent and frustrating sources of tension lies in tongue tension. Believe it or not, you’ve probably heard dozens of people sing with this kind of tension throughout the course of your life. Continue reading “Tongue Tension – a.k.a. Sounding like Kermit”

The perks of being an older singer

A year or two ago I delivered one of my vocal technique workshops to a choir. During one of the vocal technique discussions someone raised a question regarding older singers’ voices. I’m paraphrasing for the purposes of this article, but the question was broadly seeking confirmation to the idea that:

“Do you find that voices change as they get older?”

Yes, they absolutely do. Voices change as they get older. I’ve written before on the various physiological changes that occur (vocally speaking) as one ages. The larynx turns to bone, it drops lower, muscles change and mature, etc. All of this can lead to extra depth and maturity in the voice. Continue reading “The perks of being an older singer”